Spy Chief Wants to Read Your E-Mail
Posted on Jan 14, 2008
America’s intelligence czar, Mike McConnell, drops a few eyebrow-raisers in a new interview in The New Yorker. He admits he wants the ability to access all U.S. Internet traffic, and says of waterboarding: “Whether it’s torture by anybody else’s definition, for me it would be torture.”
Wall Street Journal:
At issue, McConnell acknowledges, is that in order to accomplish his plan, the government must have the ability to read all the information crossing the Internet in the United States in order to protect it from abuse. Congressional aides tell The Journal that they, too, are also anticipating a fight over civil liberties that will rival the battles over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
[...] Asked specifically about waterboarding, McConnell appears to suggest waterboarding would be torture, but he then backtracks.
“If I had water draining into my nose, oh God, I just can’t imagine how painful!” McConnell says. “Whether it’s torture by anybody else’s definition, for me it would be torture.” Asked later about that comment, McConnell says he did not mean to suggest he personally condemned it. “You can do waterboarding lots of different ways,” he says. “I assume you can get to the point that a person is actually drowning.” Yet McConnell declined to be more specific, because “if it ever is determined to be torture, there will be a huge penalty to be paid for anyone engaging in it.”